Being in a job that you hate is brutal. Your job consumes more of your waking time than just about any other activity. So if you’re in a job that is making you miserable, not only will the time that you’re at work itself be difficult, but it’s also hard for it not to cascade into other areas of your life.
And it’s particularly difficult if you find yourself in a situation where you feel like “I hate my job but can’t quit”. It can make you feel stuck and helpless and unsure of what to do.
That that end, this article is going to offer recommendations for what to do if you’re stuck in a job that you can’t quit.
Let’s dive in.
- 1 I Hate My Job But Can’t Quit: What To Do?
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- 2.1 Why Is It So Hard to Leave a Job I Hate?
- 2.2 Hate My Job But Not Qualified For Anything Else
- 2.3 How Long Should I Stay at a Job I Hate
- 2.4 I Want to Quit My Job and Do Nothing
- 2.5 I Work in a Job I Hate for Money
- 2.6 I Hate My Job So Much I Want to Get Fired
- 2.7 Should I Quit My Job With Nothing Else Lined Up
- 3 Conclusion
I Hate My Job But Can’t Quit: What To Do?
When you’re in a job that you hate but can’t quit, the first thing that you need to do is figure out a way to make your job more bearable while you’re in it. From there, you need to figure out how to get out of that job and find an alternative quickly.
Here are the steps that I would recommend to manage your situation:
1. Practice Mindfulness
Something that has really helped me personally when I’ve been in a tough spot in a job is practicing mindfulness. Things like meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling helped me to create some mental separation from the stresses of my job and make the tough times more bearable.
If you’re in a place where you really can’t stand your job, establishing a mindfulness routine can help you to manage those emotions as you’re looking for something else.
2. Accurately Assess Why You Hate Your Current Job
Before you start looking for another job, it’s important to properly assess why you hate your current job.
The book What Color is Your Parachute, talks about seven key aspects that make up a job:
- Compatibility with the people
- Workplace conditions
- Skills used
Some or all of those could be reasons that you don’t like your job. And prior to leaving or looking for a new one, it’s important to accurately diagnose why you don’t like your current situation so you can ensure that you don’t end up in a similar situation when you move onto your next job.
3. Set Your Job Criteria
Building from an accurate diagnosis of why you don’t like your current job, you’re next going to want to set the criteria for your next job.
Your job criteria is a written set of requirements that you would have for a new job that you’re looking for. Basically, it would cover the details that you’re looking for on all of the seven different factors of a job.
By having that in writing, that will guide the process of what jobs you apply for, the questions that you ask during the interview process, and which job you ultimately take. And it will help you to do that in an intentional, unemotional way.
4. Aggressively Apply for Jobs
Once you have your job criteria laid out, then you can begin your search in earnest. And if you hate your current job, you’ll want to start aggressively applying for new positions.
Now, you’ll be doing it with intentionality based upon the job criteria that you defined, but once you know what you’re looking for, then you go after it with focus and determination.
5. Interview Well
The final step in the process is that once you have some interviews lined up, to go out and interview well.
Know why you are a great candidate for the positions that you’re applying for and then go out and deliver that message in the interview process.
A complete guide for how to ace an interview is here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is It So Hard to Leave a Job I Hate?
It’s so hard to leave a job that you hate because change can be scary.
Even if you do hate your current job, you know what life is like in that current job and you know that even if it’s unpleasant, it’s bearable.
When looking for alternate jobs, you don’t know what the new company is going to be like. So there’s a risk that it could be even worse.
For recommendations on what to do if you’re struggling to leave a job you hate, take a look at our article on what to do when you’re scared to leave a job.
Hate My Job But Not Qualified For Anything Else
If you hate your job but feel like you’re not qualified for anything else, there are two things that I would recommend:
1. Audit Your Existing Skill Set
Even if you feel like you’re not qualified for any other job, there’s a good chance that you do have valuable skills that you may not be recognizing.
To that end, we have an article that includes some exercises that you can follow to help identify what you’re good at.
Equipped with a list of the skills that you do have will enable you to find jobs that enable you to leverage those and speak about them in an interview.
2. Fill Gaps in Your Qualifications
If you completed the previous exercises of setting the criteria that you’d like for your next job, and you worked through an audit of what you’re good at, you’ll likely have a sense of the gaps that you need to fill in your qualifications to get that next job.
Once you do that, it’s time to start going out and building the skills that you need for your next job. Say that you want to be a web developer but don’t have any background in the role. You can start taking courses and building websites and software on the side to develop the skills that you need to move into that space.
How Long Should I Stay at a Job I Hate
The common rule of thumb for how long you should stay at a job before moving is about two years.
However, how long you should stay at a job you hate depends a bit on your previous history.
If you’ve been a pretty stable employee through the years and haven’t bounced around much in previous jobs. Having one job on your resume that you leave in say, six months, is likely to say more about that employer than it is about you because your history is that you don’t move around much.
That said, if you frequently jump from job to job to job after less than a year or so of tenure, then another move after a short period of time increases the risk that you’ll look like a job hopper and may make it more difficult for you to get future jobs.
I Want to Quit My Job and Do Nothing
The ability to quit your job and do nothing depends upon your circumstances.
If you’re in a financial position where you would be able to not work long term and still have you and your family’s basic needs taken care of, then you can make the decision to do that.
However, even if you are in a financial position like that, I would encourage you to not check out on work and to try and find the right context to do work that is going to bring you to life.
My favorite definition of work is from the philosopher Dallas Willard who calls work “the energy that we put forth to produce good”. When you think of it that way, work is a beautiful thing and I think that we all innately have a desire to produce some type of good in our lives.
So, if you do want to quit your job I would encourage you to still find the right context for you to produce good, whether that’s dedicating yourself to raising your family, freelancing, writing on the side or doing something to try and find work that you will enjoy.
For more recommendations on what to do if you feel like you just hate working in general, take a look at our dedicated article on the topic.
I Work in a Job I Hate for Money
The older I get, the more I realize that life is too short to waste it doing things that you hate.
Now, ultimately, you do need to earn an income. But it’s not worth spending the bulk of your time doing something that you hate for money.
In our current day and age, there are so many jobs and so many ways to earn money that with some focus an intentionally, you can find a way to earn an income without doing something that you absolutely hate. Now, you may not make as much money, but if the quality of your life improves, then that’s worth it in my mind.
I Hate My Job So Much I Want to Get Fired
If you hate your job so much that you can’t stand being in it anymore, don’t work to get fired, just make the decision to resign on your terms.
By resigning professionally, you ultimately are dictating when you leave the company and are likely leaving on better terms than if you worked to intentionally get fired.
Plus, being able to say that you resigned is going to look better for future jobs than saying that you quit.
Should I Quit My Job With Nothing Else Lined Up
In general, no, I don’t recommend quitting your job with nothing else lined up.
Ultimately, you don’t know how long it will take you to get your next job, which could create financial difficulties and a long gap in your resume that is difficult to overcome.
To that end, I would recommend techniques like practicing mindfulness to make your existing job more bearable. From there, try to pivot to another opportunity as quickly as possible.
Feeling like “I hate my job but can’t quit” is a really tough spot.
However, know that the pain that you’re feeling is likely short term and with some focus and intentionality, you can find a better context for you to do your work.
So, develop skills like mindfulness to make your job more bearable in the moment, and then work to move on to your next role as quickly as possible.